A new era begins at the 2012 Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar with the debut of Moto3™, the 250cc four-stroke bikes brought in to replace the former 125cc machines which had been a part of the World Championship since its beginnings in 1949. The pre-season has hinted at an exciting new generation of machinery and an intense level of competition, with 32 riders competing for the honour of being crowned the first-ever Moto3™ World Champion.
A core of riders will be labelled as favourites following their exploits in both the 125s and pre-season, with the likes of Maverick Viñales (Blusens Avintia), Sandro Cortese (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) being three such names. All Grand Prix winners, the trio will be accompanied by a number of promising talents in trying to start the season with a strong result in Qatar.
Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo) has been impressive in pre-season, whilst Alberto Moncayo (Bankia Aspar), Luis Salom (RW Racing GP), and Jonas Folger (Iodaracing Project) all have solid experience.
Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0’0) makes a return to the World Championship after debuting last year, and Efrén Vázquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse), Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing), Zulfahmi Khairuddin (AirAsia-SIC-Ajo) and Jasper Iwema (Moto FGR) all know their way around the World Championship circuits well.
Joining the World Championship for their first seasons will be 11 new riders, as the talent continues to filter through to the big stage. 2011 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup runner-up Arthur Sissis rides for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in 2012, and his fellow former Rookies Cup riders Frenchman Alan Techer (Technomag-CIP-TSR) and South African Brad Binder (RW Racing GP) also make the step up to Moto3™ as they attempt to get off to good starts at Losail.
Other new faces will include Italian prospects Niccolò Antonelli (San Carlo Gresini Moto3) and Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI), the latter of whom took the Jerez Test by storm, and Japanese rider Kenta Fujii (Technomag-CIP-TSR).
The Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar adopts a different format to the remainder of the rounds this season, stretching across four days from April 5-8. The first practice session starts at 6pm local time on Thursday when the Moto3™ bikes head out onto track, with the MotoGP™ first practice commencing at 7.55pm local time. The MotoGP™ race is scheduled to begin at 10pm local time on Sunday.
If you want to know something more about this new class, take a look at the article published in the Ride Through Magazine’s issue #3